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Zechariah 4:6 is a message of hope to the discouraged children of God. The narrative of this message begins when Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon (539 B.C.). He immediately instituted a policy of peace toward the conquered people of his empire which was shown in his decree permitting the return of the Jews and the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1–4). So, a small group of exiles, under the leadership of Zerubbabel (or Sheshbazzar; Ezra 1:8), returned to their homeland and laid the foundation of the Second Temple (Ezra 2:64; 3:1–10).
But during the reigns of Cyrus and his successor, Cambyses, the enemies of the Jews tried to obtain a royal edict to stop this work (Ezra 4:5). However, the Lord defended His people (Daniel 10:12, 13), and did not allow the enemies to triumph. So, the work of the reconstruction of the temple continued. However, after a good start, the work on the Second Temple came to a halt, due to the continued interference of the Samaritans (Ezra 4:1–5). And the disheartened exiles went to work on their own personal projects instead.
After the reign of Cambyses, came the False Smerdis (522 B.C.). And the Samaritans obtained from this king a decree to stop the work at Jerusalem. So, the returned exiles felt that the right time had not come to rebuild the Temple (Haggai 1:2). To face this sad situation of spiritual weakness, the Lord raised up the prophets Haggai and Zechariah with messages of warning and encouragement which again aroused the people to action, until finally the work on the Temple was resumed in the second year of Darius (Haggai 1:14, 15).
Zechariah’s prophecies came at a time of great uncertainty and anxiety, when it seemed to the leaders as if the permission granted the Jews to rebuild was about to be withdrawn. So, God’s messages, dealing with His work and the divine plans for the restoration, were designed to bring encouragement to the weakening zeal of the Jews.
God gave Zechariah a series of night visions. The fifth one, was the vision of the Lampstand and the Olive Trees. Zechariah wrote, “I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left.” So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, “What are these, my lord?” “Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” And I said, “No, my lord.” So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:2-6).
In this vision, Zerubbabel, represented the civil leadership and administration (Zechariah 4:9). And the oil furnished by the olive trees (Zechariah 4:3) represented the Holy Spirit. The Lord wanted His people to know that His grace alone could triumph over all the hardships that faced the rebuilders of Jerusalem. Zerubbabel and his companions were discouraged by their weakness and feeble resources to carry on the work of restoration against the opposition of their enemies. But the vision assured them that God’s purposes for Israel would be accomplished not by human “might” or “power,” but by His own Spirit and His own power.
The Completion of the Temple
As a result of the inspiring messages of Haggai and Zechariah, the work on the Temple was restarted (Ezra 6:14, 15). For it was only after the people had begun work again on the Temple, believing in God’s protection that Darius made another official decree for the rebuilding of the Temple which confirmed and strengthened the original decree of Cyrus (Ezra 5:3 to 6:13).
And thus, moved by the encouraging message of Zechariah 4:6 and others and under leadership of Haggai and Zechariah, of the governor of the returned exiles, Zerubbabel, and of the high priest, Joshua (Ezra 5:1, 2; 6:14), that the people moved forward with energy and zeal and completed the construction of the Temple in the 6th year of Darius (Ezra 6:15).
In His service,